We were hundreds of women, marching on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan.
We shouted slogans. ’“Aurat aiee, aurat aiee, tharki teri shaamath aiee!” (Women are here, harassers must fear!)
We raised our fists in the air, smiling, laughing.
We wore what we wanted to wear: burqas, jeans and designer shades, brightly embroidered skirts, the traditional tunic and baggy trousers called shalwar kameez.
Men gaped, shook their heads, filmed us from passing cars as we walked by, disrupting traffic.
We did not care what the men thought of us.
We were free to stand, walk, dance, with nobody to tell us to sit down, be quiet, be good.
It was the first time in my life that I saw women gathering in public, in strength, in numbers.
This was the Aurat (Urdu for “women”) March, the first of its kind in the conservative Muslim country of Pakistan. There were actually three marches — in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad – all held on March 8, International Women’s Day.
Photo: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images